The Blessedness of Death
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
And I heard a voice from heaven saying,
“Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit,
“that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”
It is always a good reminder to ask yourself: “Are you ready to meet the Lord?” Do not take it for granted that you will live on for the next 50 years (if you are in the “Majulah” generation), or for the next 10 to 20 years (if you belong to the “Pioneer”/”Merdeka” generation). The prophet Amos told Israel, “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12). We have before us a most important reminder, and we must be prepared for it.
Once, I was called to minister to someone who was seriously ill. The family told me not to speak to their loved one about death. They were very insistent about it. I knew how seriously ill the person was. The family came with me and stayed by the bedside. I could only read the scripture and pray for him.
On another occasion when I was called to minister to a seriously ill person, it was different. The person knew his time was short. He was troubled. I read John 14:1-3 and it ministered to him deeply. I love this text in the King James Version, which says:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
That was all I read to him and I prayed for him. I recalled him looking very peaceful after that.
The subject of death cannot be avoided. It is at our doorstep. It can come upon anyone at any time. The prophet Jeremiah said, “For death has come up into our windows; it has entered our palaces, cutting off the children from the streets and the young men from the squares.” (Jeremiah 9:21). Bildad quite rightly describes death as “the king of terrors.” “It consumes the parts of his skin; the firstborn of death consumes his limbs. He is torn from the tent in which he trusted and is brought to the king of terrors” (Job 18:13, 14). Who isn’t afraid of death? It will be worse if you are not prepared for it. Ecclesiastes 7:2 tells us that “death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.” How do I “take” my own death “to heart”? How can I be prepared for death?
Christians need a good theology of death.
When a brother or sister in the Lord passes away, there should be grieving and rejoicing. They both have a place. We grieve for what is lost and rejoice at what is gained. That is a good Christian theology of death (for those who die in faith).
1. To grieve is part of the journey of any bereavement. When Sarah died at the age of 127 years old, Abraham mourned and wept for her (Gen. 23:1, 2). When Jacob died (Gen. 49:33), the Egyptians wept for him for 70 days (Gen. 50:3). And when Moses died at the age of 120 years old, the children of Israel wept for him for 30 days (Deut. 34:7, 8).
2. Another theology of Christian death is to know that “…. to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21), because at death, the believer goes directly into the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:1, 8). Jesus tells us in Luke 16:22, that when the poor man died, he was carried by the angels to Abraham's side/bosom. Where is this place? Jesus tells us this place is heaven. “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11, 12). Heaven is the Christian’s eternal home!
I am constantly reminded of the verse, Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.” Luther renders this, “The death of his saints is held to be of value before the Lord.”
How to be prepared to meet the Lord?
1. Be 100 percent sure that you are a born again Christian. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Do you know for sure that you are going to be with God in Heaven? If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say?
2. Live a life pleasing to God always. “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him” (2 Corinthians 5:9).
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
(Psalm 90: 12 KJV)
Redeem the time, so that, through the knowledge and application of God's truth, we may glorify God and live for Him. Amen.